Luton Town 1 Gillingham 0
Alex Lacey’s first half goal was the difference as a Luton Town development side beat League Two Gillingham this afternoon, writes Mike Simmonds.
The defender capped an impressive individual performance in the centre of defence by rising highest to nod home midway through the opening period.
Hatters had picked a side with plenty of first team experience, including Jake Robinson, Dean Brill, Matt Robinson, Danny Spiller, Dan Walker, along with youth teamers Brett Longden and Jerome Jibodu, plus an unnamed trialist on the left flank.
Luton almost scored in the opening moments through Spiller, before Walker fired straight at Ross Flitney after reaching Jake Woolley’s hooked ball forward.
Jake Robinson’s audacious effort from distance was fumbled away by Flitney, while the on-loan Northampton man sent over a cross that rebounded off Woolley and into the keeper’s grateful gloves.
Brill made a close-range stop as Gills pushed forward, while Tinashe Chabata was inches away from Jake Robinson’s inswinging delivery.
Walker, who was constantly urged forward by watching manager Paul Buckle, gained plenty of joy down the right whenever he isolated his defender, beating him with regular ease.
After Longden’s forceful break from right-back, Walker stood up another good cross and Jake Robinson half-volleyed over.
Lacey then came up trumps to head home, before Spiller had to worryingly leave the field on 27 minutes, with what looked like a recurrence of his achilles injury as he was replaced by Nick Burtenshaw.
Town’s trialist, who also impressed, especially when in possession, almost made it 2-0 as his fierce drive was deflected just wide.
After the break, Burtenshaw side-footed over from 18 yards, before being replaced by Charlie Smith, while Walker continued to wreak havoc, firing against the inside of the post, with the ball somehow rebounding away for a goal-kick.
Town stepped up the tempo in an entertaining clash, as Woolley’s neat turn and shot drew an excellent save by Flitney, while Jake Robinson’s deflected effort didn’t dip in time.
Late on, Gills finally began to apply pressure and, although they squandered a glorious opportunity, Town’s defence stood firm to seal a deserved victory.
Hatters: Dean Brill, Brett Longden, Jerome Jibodu, Tinashe Chabata, Alex Lacey, Jake Robinson (Jemale McKenzie-Lowe 88) Danny Spiller (Nick Burtenshaw 27, Charlie Smith 60), Matt Robinson, Trialist, Jake Woolley, Dan Walker.
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